Spanish bank Santander has confirmed its exit as a sponsor from Formula 1 after 11 seasons following the conclusion of the 2017 campaign last weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Santander has acted as a major sponsor for Scuderia Ferrari since 2010, with its branding appearing on the team’s F1 cars, driver overalls and kit.
Santander first arrived as a sponsor in F1 in 2007 with McLaren following its signing of Spanish driver Fernando Alonso, whose move to Ferrari paved the way for a fresh commercial deal.
Away from teams, Santander also acted as the title sponsor for the British Grand Prix and Spanish Grand Prix in the past, but will now end all its F1 activities in favor of a new deal with soccer’s UEFA Champions League competition.
“At the end of this year, Santander will conclude its successful sponsorship of the Formula One racing team, Scuderia Ferrari, which it has supported for the last eight seasons,” a statement from Santander reads.
“The bank will also conclude its corporate sponsorship agreements with F1 which have helped increase Santander’s brand recognition around the world over the last 11 years.”
The loss of the Santander deal comes not long after Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne questioned its future in F1 due to concerns over its future direction.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.